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Women of Means: The Fascinating Biographies of Royals, Heiresses, Eccentrics and Other Poor Little Rich Girls

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People are riveted by royals, captivated by celebrities, mesmerized by the monied and enthralled by eccentric characters. Biographer Marlene Wagman Geller gathers them all in this enchanting look at the lives and the gilded lives of wealthy women.


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People are riveted by royals, captivated by celebrities, mesmerized by the monied and enthralled by eccentric characters. Biographer Marlene Wagman Geller gathers them all in this enchanting look at the lives and the gilded lives of wealthy women.

30 review for Women of Means: The Fascinating Biographies of Royals, Heiresses, Eccentrics and Other Poor Little Rich Girls

  1. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    I dont know why this book isn’t rated higher. The audio is so entertaining!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This is a gossip knock off of a book. The lives of these ladies are fascinating and some are more notorious than others. However, you get most of the same facts from a Wikipedia article. Indeed, most of the sources are the Daily Mail, People or the ladies' obituaries. The author also has the bad habit of changing which name she wants to use to refer to a person. This makes following the thread of the chapter difficult. There's also some date errors, a glaring one in the Casey Johnson chapter. Th This is a gossip knock off of a book. The lives of these ladies are fascinating and some are more notorious than others. However, you get most of the same facts from a Wikipedia article. Indeed, most of the sources are the Daily Mail, People or the ladies' obituaries. The author also has the bad habit of changing which name she wants to use to refer to a person. This makes following the thread of the chapter difficult. There's also some date errors, a glaring one in the Casey Johnson chapter. The shoehorning of the themes in the chapters makes for a tiresome effect. I wish the chapters were just title by the heiress' names. Another wish is pictures; it would bring the ladies to life. Overall, the book takes a lot of schadenfreude in the misfortunes of the rich. I don't pity the rich. And clearly some of them do make bad decisions. However, some of the ladies' less scandalous accomplishments are glossed over.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zain

    Pretty Good! Each chapter is filled with the delightful gossip of someone, usually female, who was born into a wealthy family. The subject of the chapter is either from a dis-functional family, or becomes dis-functional after inheriting a ton of money. These women are all similar, in that they are used and abused for their wealth. Some of the people whose family is discussed are from the Rothschilds, the Cunards, the Johnson & Johnsons, the Bettencourts, the Chanels, Doris Duke heirs, the BMW Quandt Pretty Good! Each chapter is filled with the delightful gossip of someone, usually female, who was born into a wealthy family. The subject of the chapter is either from a dis-functional family, or becomes dis-functional after inheriting a ton of money. These women are all similar, in that they are used and abused for their wealth. Some of the people whose family is discussed are from the Rothschilds, the Cunards, the Johnson & Johnsons, the Bettencourts, the Chanels, Doris Duke heirs, the BMW Quandts, Leona Helmsley and so many others. Wegman-Geller wants the world to know that money doesn’t bring you happiness. That’s something I think we already know. But I don’t blame all that money for people’s unhappiness. I blame what they choose to do with it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    Marlene Wagman-Geller’s latest is a scintillating look at 28 ultra-wealthy women whose lives flowed with “champagne and bile.” 💰 Her addictive book unfolds shocking tales of troubled luminaries. We learn the real real about Patty Hearst; Almira Carnarvon, spiritual twin to Lady Cora of Downton Abbey; Liliane Bettencourt, whose L’Oreal-founding chemist father was a Nazi collaborator; and Peggy Guggenheim, who lusted insatiably for modern art and sexy men, among many intriguing others. It’s like wat Marlene Wagman-Geller’s latest is a scintillating look at 28 ultra-wealthy women whose lives flowed with “champagne and bile.” 💰 Her addictive book unfolds shocking tales of troubled luminaries. We learn the real real about Patty Hearst; Almira Carnarvon, spiritual twin to Lady Cora of Downton Abbey; Liliane Bettencourt, whose L’Oreal-founding chemist father was a Nazi collaborator; and Peggy Guggenheim, who lusted insatiably for modern art and sexy men, among many intriguing others. It’s like watching Princess Diana that last night in Paris; you just can’t look away. 💰 If anything, I came away shaking my head but still wishing for the winning lotto ticket, remembering a quote from Rita Davenport: “Money isn’t everything...but it ranks up there with oxygen.” 💰 Highly recommended for lovers of elegant true stories and cautionary tales! Out now. ~~ Thanks to the author for the gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ghost of the Library

    Biographies are my favorite genre, maybe that means i'm a gossipy ghost i don't know, but fact is, i believe the only way we will all learn is by looking at whats behind, what actions were taken, their positives and negatives, and the impact they had on modern society as a whole. That being said , i should also be just and add, a biographer has probably one of the hardest tasks of all - walking that razor thin line that separates biography from hagiography from i hate this person and why the hell Biographies are my favorite genre, maybe that means i'm a gossipy ghost i don't know, but fact is, i believe the only way we will all learn is by looking at whats behind, what actions were taken, their positives and negatives, and the impact they had on modern society as a whole. That being said , i should also be just and add, a biographer has probably one of the hardest tasks of all - walking that razor thin line that separates biography from hagiography from i hate this person and why the hell am i writing about you (oh that's right, i got bills to pay!). Naturally, since an author is only after all a human being, not everyone will succeed in this endeavor....and that is sadly what happened here. I cant bring myself to recommend this to anyone, and its a shame because 80% of the women in here had a life worth telling - no matter how tragic/sad/bad they might have been - without the judgmental undertone that is present in the whole book. These women were/are filthy rich true, they live(d) a life the vast majority of us can only see on social media or in a Hollywood movie - if we so decide to follow those people/buy the movie ticket - but to dumb them down to stupid vapid empty women is insulting, demeaning and down right a shame. The only ones that seem to merit some respect are the ones who, literally, kicked the men in their lives to the curb and became vengeful harpies.....which only annoyed me more, i mean nothing wrong with getting rid of the bad baggage in your life, but also please don't judge a book just by its cover, and please don't judge the actions of women who in some cases lived almost 100 years ago by today's standards. Maybe i'm wrong, maybe i have read too many books of half of these ladies, but i think this fails not only as a serious biography but also as an introduction...if you want to learn a thing or two and be entertained there's better options out there than this...that is all i can say. Anyways, happy readings!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Saturday's Child

    From the cover I thought that the women featured would be more historical however that is not the case. This book has potential it just lost me with its gossip style and lack of attention to details, for example spelling - "Princess Caroline of Monaca" (page 118) and observations - Edwina Mountbatten "devastated at the tragic loss of her husband and grandson" (page 61). On the same page it is written that she died in 1960 and her husband and grandson in 1979 so she would not have known of their From the cover I thought that the women featured would be more historical however that is not the case. This book has potential it just lost me with its gossip style and lack of attention to details, for example spelling - "Princess Caroline of Monaca" (page 118) and observations - Edwina Mountbatten "devastated at the tragic loss of her husband and grandson" (page 61). On the same page it is written that she died in 1960 and her husband and grandson in 1979 so she would not have known of their deaths.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Priya

    Like the earlier books from the author, this one was a fascinating read about people I have heard about or read about and even marveled at or been envious of! Money is of course necessary for a good life and is something no one would say no to. But the women featured in this book have so much of it that it takes over their lives. Proving that richness is no cornucopia for all ills, these women go through their own share of heartache, both self inflicted and well deserved. Told in an engaging way, Like the earlier books from the author, this one was a fascinating read about people I have heard about or read about and even marveled at or been envious of! Money is of course necessary for a good life and is something no one would say no to. But the women featured in this book have so much of it that it takes over their lives. Proving that richness is no cornucopia for all ills, these women go through their own share of heartache, both self inflicted and well deserved. Told in an engaging way, their stories kept me hooked.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Cooney-Glazer

    This book proved beyond question that being born into great wealth doesn't insure a trouble-free life. It did illustrate as well that vast amounts of cash can smooth out some of the rough spots. As I progressed through the stories, I was surprised, sometimes saddened, at the level of dysfunction the women experienced while they grew up. Appealing to rich potential spouses, having money and social status were the main, and often only goals they were encouraged to pursue. The lives of these ultra ri This book proved beyond question that being born into great wealth doesn't insure a trouble-free life. It did illustrate as well that vast amounts of cash can smooth out some of the rough spots. As I progressed through the stories, I was surprised, sometimes saddened, at the level of dysfunction the women experienced while they grew up. Appealing to rich potential spouses, having money and social status were the main, and often only goals they were encouraged to pursue. The lives of these ultra rich and famous women were not dull, and made an interesting read Separate chapters dedicated to each heiress, explores lives, loves, adventures and misfortunes. The format make the book extremely easy to read. The author makes no obvious judgement, however, there is a kind of spare tartness of language in spots that made me chuckle. I enjoyed the stories. Ms. Wagman-Geller's research into these woman was impressive. The book is well worth reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debra Belmudes

    3 1/2 stars Though I found them interesting, the biographies were too brief as they must be to be included in a book of 28 women. I prefer longer, single-subject books and found a few subjects I would like to learn more about.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    An interesting if dramatic look at so-called poor little rich girls, lol. This is very readable and light. I would've given 3.5 stars but I did not like the way the author used race: for sensationalism largely ignoring the nuance. I know this was about the women but without the nuance of race the Black men come off very stereotypically. There was also zero discussion of rich white folks and how they like to 'collect' talented Black folks. This has a long and disturbing history. Given that white wo An interesting if dramatic look at so-called poor little rich girls, lol. This is very readable and light. I would've given 3.5 stars but I did not like the way the author used race: for sensationalism largely ignoring the nuance. I know this was about the women but without the nuance of race the Black men come off very stereotypically. There was also zero discussion of rich white folks and how they like to 'collect' talented Black folks. This has a long and disturbing history. Given that white women were full agents in US style slavery around the globe and this MUST be looked at and commented about when mentioning these type of situationships. Otherwise light and fun.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    tabloid type rubbish

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I love this author and all of her books so far. They are full of so many fascinating facts about people who we may think we know but usually have no real clue about as well as introducing us as a reader to unknown women who have a life story which can be tragic or successful. In her latest work we look at women who on the face of it should have the world at their feet but behind the name and money cones pain and misfortune that we can only begin to understand. This book did not disappoint with a I love this author and all of her books so far. They are full of so many fascinating facts about people who we may think we know but usually have no real clue about as well as introducing us as a reader to unknown women who have a life story which can be tragic or successful. In her latest work we look at women who on the face of it should have the world at their feet but behind the name and money cones pain and misfortune that we can only begin to understand. This book did not disappoint with a fascinating mix of women some well known and some lesser so but everyone has a story mixed in tragedy which was just fascinating to read. My favourites in this book were Nancy Cunard and Jocelyn Wilderstein. These two women I had thought I knew but through this book realised I knew nothing at all about them. Many Cunard was not only an muse to many famous men but also a dedicated activist in her time yet mental illness and alcoholism damaged her life and ultimately caused her death. Jocelyn Wilderstein is known through the media as cat woman due to her obsession with this plastic surgery to make her look more feline but the tragic story behind why is heartbreaking. This book is a fascinating read behind the curtain of a life most of us could not even achieve or imagine.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    A few times I laughed out loud at some of the quotes the author shares. I am always a bit suspicious of historical detail with no attribution as to the source, and this book certainly had me wondering. Right up until page 52. In her chapter on Edwina Mountbatten nee Ashley, she writes about the assassination of her husband Lord Mountbatten in 1979 when the IRA planted a bomb in his fishing boat, killing Mountbatten and his 14-year-old grandson. It was on page 53 that I stopped reading and moved A few times I laughed out loud at some of the quotes the author shares. I am always a bit suspicious of historical detail with no attribution as to the source, and this book certainly had me wondering. Right up until page 52. In her chapter on Edwina Mountbatten nee Ashley, she writes about the assassination of her husband Lord Mountbatten in 1979 when the IRA planted a bomb in his fishing boat, killing Mountbatten and his 14-year-old grandson. It was on page 53 that I stopped reading and moved this book onto my "Abandoned" shelf. For there Wagman-Geller writes, "Edwina spent her last years emotionally adrift, miserable at the enforced separation of the man she loved and devastated at the tragic loss of her husband and grandson. She passed away from heart failure in North Borneo in 1960...." So. NINETEEN YEARS BEFORE her husband and grandson were killed, she died mourning their loss. Don't waste your time on this one. You'll have no idea what's true and what is pure fantasy. And shame on the editors for not catching that. tsk tsk tsk.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Each chapter was a condensed history of a fascinatingly rich family and the challenges this lifestyle brings. I enjoyed each and every chapter!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Suzi

    Short, fun bios of rich women we have probably heard of. Quick read. Not jealous at all of any of them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    It was like reading the intro to Masterpiece Mysteries only many more pages. Not bad. Some of the chapters are told out of sequence or were a bit nonsensical. It was kind of like reading book reports, only most of the works cited are periodicals. It wasn't bad and it was FREE. Free is free. It was like reading the intro to Masterpiece Mysteries only many more pages. Not bad. Some of the chapters are told out of sequence or were a bit nonsensical. It was kind of like reading book reports, only most of the works cited are periodicals. It wasn't bad and it was FREE. Free is free.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Review Interesting if you like this genre,as I do. These life stories explain the saying "money can't buy love". These poor women Review Interesting if you like this genre,as I do. These life stories explain the saying "money can't buy love". These poor women

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Burgess

    Totally entertaining! A fascinating inside look at the rich & famous. Done with subtle humor. Definitely proves that money doesn’t buy happiness!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    I have read a few of Marlene Wagman-Geller‘s fascinating books and was looking forward to this one, and it didn’t disappoint. Women of Means is a well researched book full of interesting biographies of ‘well off’ women from royals to heiresses, full of the intimate details of these women you get to understand their lives through their stories. The women who really stood our for me were, Almira Carnarvon, who was the real-life inspiration for Downton Abbey’s Lady Cora. Nica Rothschild, was anothe I have read a few of Marlene Wagman-Geller‘s fascinating books and was looking forward to this one, and it didn’t disappoint. Women of Means is a well researched book full of interesting biographies of ‘well off’ women from royals to heiresses, full of the intimate details of these women you get to understand their lives through their stories. The women who really stood our for me were, Almira Carnarvon, who was the real-life inspiration for Downton Abbey’s Lady Cora. Nica Rothschild, was another fascinating women, the chapter on her recounts how she chose to trade her gilded life to become the Baroness of Bebop. Liliane Bettencourt’s story intrigued me, the daughter of the chemist who created L’Oreal, she became a Nazi collaborator. These are just a few examples of the women Wagman-Geller has written about but there are many more stories to explore in her latest book. I could not put this book down, and would definitely recommend it, a five star read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joyce McCombs

    Short, concise bios of women to whom money was literally no object...it was just there, controlling every aspect of their lives, their marriages, their children, and their place in society. Some of the stories begin sadly and end up happier, others go the opposite direction, and those are the most challenging to read. I liked this one for it's brevity, though the author tends to be a bit preachy with her tendency to lead and finish each bio with a quote or moral admonishment -- it detracted from Short, concise bios of women to whom money was literally no object...it was just there, controlling every aspect of their lives, their marriages, their children, and their place in society. Some of the stories begin sadly and end up happier, others go the opposite direction, and those are the most challenging to read. I liked this one for it's brevity, though the author tends to be a bit preachy with her tendency to lead and finish each bio with a quote or moral admonishment -- it detracted from the bios and didn't seem necessary, especially since the stories amply demonstrated the pitfalls (and some glories) of being a woman of means.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linda Edmonds cerullo

    An outstanding look at the lives of famous women. Some were not so well known to me and there were some that I was aware of but did not know certain details of their life. Covering women as diverse as Ruth Madoff, Patty Hearst, Jocelyn Wildenstein (known for having so many plastic surgeries she was referred to as the "cat woman"), Almira Carnavon (the real life counterpart to Lady Cora of Downton Abbey) and several lesser known females, Marlene Wagman-Geller uses short chapters to reveal a multi An outstanding look at the lives of famous women. Some were not so well known to me and there were some that I was aware of but did not know certain details of their life. Covering women as diverse as Ruth Madoff, Patty Hearst, Jocelyn Wildenstein (known for having so many plastic surgeries she was referred to as the "cat woman"), Almira Carnavon (the real life counterpart to Lady Cora of Downton Abbey) and several lesser known females, Marlene Wagman-Geller uses short chapters to reveal a multitude of behind the scenes information on these compelling ladies. Definitely a great read!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maura

    This collection of mini biographies of incredibly wealthy but spoiled women is entertaining and mind-boggling but ultimately a bit repetitive and very depressing. The up side is that after reading it, the other 99 percent may feel relieved to NOT be born into ridiculous wealth. This book needs a copy edit (multiple misspellings, confusing syntax), and the author’s love of tabloid-y turns of phrase is too heavy-handed. But feminists, history buffs and fans of celebrity will enjoy this book anyway This collection of mini biographies of incredibly wealthy but spoiled women is entertaining and mind-boggling but ultimately a bit repetitive and very depressing. The up side is that after reading it, the other 99 percent may feel relieved to NOT be born into ridiculous wealth. This book needs a copy edit (multiple misspellings, confusing syntax), and the author’s love of tabloid-y turns of phrase is too heavy-handed. But feminists, history buffs and fans of celebrity will enjoy this book anyway.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    This is a detailed collection of royals and hieresses, who endure tragic scenarios. This book is well written, intriguing and fascinating. The names of the mini biographies include Nancy Cunard, Peggy Gugginheim, Gloria Vanderbilt and Casey Johnson and others.All stories are very interesting and a bit heartbreaking. It's worth the read! This is a detailed collection of royals and hieresses, who endure tragic scenarios. This book is well written, intriguing and fascinating. The names of the mini biographies include Nancy Cunard, Peggy Gugginheim, Gloria Vanderbilt and Casey Johnson and others.All stories are very interesting and a bit heartbreaking. It's worth the read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Gentry

    Interesting and sad... I found the peeks into the lives of famous fascinating and heartbreaking. Ms. Wagman does an excellent job of insinuating and not being overly graphic with her descriptions of each woman's escapades. I finished the book with a greater empathy for each of the women portrayed. Interesting and sad... I found the peeks into the lives of famous fascinating and heartbreaking. Ms. Wagman does an excellent job of insinuating and not being overly graphic with her descriptions of each woman's escapades. I finished the book with a greater empathy for each of the women portrayed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    I received a complimentary copy. Its a good look into what it takes to be on another side of the poverty level as far as social status. Well written so that you can connect the stories instead of immediately not feeling any remorse for the way women can be overlooked.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Angela Watts

    VERY FASCINATING BOOK! CAN'T HELP BUT FEEL SORRY FOR SOME OF THE WOMEN. IT MUST BE VERY HARD TO FIND LOVE WHEN YOU HAVE MONEY. BUT I THINK THEY ARE DIFFERENT FROM MIDDLE AND LOW CLASS. THEY DON'T WORK OR KNOW WHAT ITS. LIKE TO BE WITH OUT. EXCEPT MAYBE LOVE AND AFFECTION. VERY FASCINATING BOOK! CAN'T HELP BUT FEEL SORRY FOR SOME OF THE WOMEN. IT MUST BE VERY HARD TO FIND LOVE WHEN YOU HAVE MONEY. BUT I THINK THEY ARE DIFFERENT FROM MIDDLE AND LOW CLASS. THEY DON'T WORK OR KNOW WHAT ITS. LIKE TO BE WITH OUT. EXCEPT MAYBE LOVE AND AFFECTION.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carole Sustak

    A wonderfully insightful, yet humorous jaunt, through the lives of numerous women of wealth via inheritance or marriage. A fun read!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Ragan

    Fantastic Read It is a wonderful book full of fantastic stories of poor little rich girls! The stories are amazing and horrifying at the same time!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aggie Martinez

    I really enjoyed this book. The author presented each famous woman with a detailed background. Very informative.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Lee

    Substantantiates the adage, "money can't buy happiness." It can also make you VERY strange. Substantantiates the adage, "money can't buy happiness." It can also make you VERY strange.

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